Alleged Bin Laden Tape Sees 'Long War'

GENERIC: Osama Bin Laden audio tape CBS/AP

An audio tape – believed to be a message from Osama bin Laden – says America and the West are waging a "Zionist crusader war against Muslims" in the Palestinian territories, Sudan, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The message calls for Muslim fighters to "prepare all that it takes to fight a long war against the crusader plunderers."

Broadcast Sunday morning by the Al-Jazeera television network, the voice on the tape claims that the West's decision to cut off funds to the Palestinians proves that the United States and Europe were at war with Islam.

"The blockade which the West is imposing on the government of Hamas proves that there is a Zionist crusader war on Islam," the speaker on the tape says.

"I say that this war is the joint responsibility of the people and the governments. While the war continues, the people renew their allegiance to their rulers and politicians and continue to send their sons to our countries to fight us."

Sources tell CBS News Consultant Jere Van Dyk they believe the voice on the tape to be bin Laden, but there was no way to independently verify its authenticity.

The White House says the intelligence community believes that is the voice of Osama bin Laden on the tape. Spokesman Scott McClellan says it suggests the terror leader is under pressure and "on the run."

The Palestinian militant group Hamas responded, saying its ideology is vastly different from al Qaeda's, but noted that international sanctions on the Hamas-led Palestinian government would naturally cause anger among some Muslims.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said "the ideology of Hamas is totally different from then ideology of Sheik bin Laden." But he also added that the "international siege on the Palestinian people" would create tension in the Arab and Islamic world.

"It's natural that this tension is going to create an impression that there is a Western-Israeli alliance working against the Palestinians," Abu Zuhri said, adding that Hamas is interested in having good relations with the West.

The tape also calls for a global Muslim boycott of American goods.

The call is similar to a recent action aimed at Danish products following the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Referring to this controversy in the new tape, bin Laden demands that the artists who drew those caricatures be handed over to him for trial and punishment.

If it is bin Laden on the tape, this is the first new message from the terrorist leader since Jan. 19. In that audiotape, he warned that his fighters were preparing new attacks in the United States but offered the American people a "long-term truce" without specifying the conditions. That tape was posted in full on a Web site a month later and included a vow by the terrorist chieftain never to be captured alive.

Sunday's tape also called for terrorist forces to go to Sudan to fight a proposed U.N. peacekeeping force, calling them "crusader plunderers."

"I call on Mujahedin and their supporters, especially in Sudan and the Arab peninsula, to prepare for long war again the crusader plunderers in Western Sudan. Our goal is not defending the Khartoum government but to defend Islam, its land and its people," he said.

"I urge holy warriors to be acquainted with the land and the tribes in Darfur." They should know the rainy season approaches and that will hamper their movement, he said.

The fighting in Darfur began when rebels from black African tribes took up arms in February 2003, complaining of discrimination and oppression by Sudan's Arab-dominated government.

The government is accused of unleashing Arab tribal militia known as the Janjaweed against civilians in a campaign of murder, rape and arson.

At least 180,000 people have died, many from hunger and disease and two million people have been displaced in the vast, arid region of western Sudan.

The U.S. and other Western countries are pushing for the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to the war-torn region.

Less than two weeks ago, Al Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri praised insurgents in Iraq — particularly Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — and called on all Muslims to support them. The statements were made in a video posted on the Internet

The video is 28 minutes long, carries an Islamic calendar date corresponding to November 2005, and in the video, al-Zawahri mentions an Oct. 23 earthquake that hit Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Al-Zawahri has appeared in at least three videotapes filmed since November, all of them aired on the Al-Jazeera news network.
  • Joel Roberts

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